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Personal Insurance

What Those Unusual Car Noises Really Mean…

By January 26, 2018June 22nd, 2023No Comments

The purr of an engine, the whoosh of the wind and the sound of a bass pulsating in time to your favorite song: No doubt about it—your car can serve up some pretty sweet sounds.

But there are plenty of sounds that aren’t so pleasant. From clunks and clicks to rumbles and rattles, your car usually speaks up when something needs to be fixed. But do you know what it’s trying to tell you?

To help you decipher, here are car experts’ insights into six of the most common car complaints.

The noise: Humming or groaning

What it means: “The tires are having wear problems, and that can be serious. It’s often caused by premature wear on the inside portion of the tire, which is not easy to see. That wear could expose the steel belts on the tire, putting it at risk of coming apart.” -Alex Andreus, chief operating officer, Brickell Honda, Buick, GMC in Miami, Fla.

The noise: Growling

What it means: “The noise will change and may even go away as you make a turn or swerve the vehicle. It’s usually caused by a defective front wheel bearing, and the noise change is caused by shifting the load of the vehicle from one side to the other in a turn.” -Patrick Butler, education manager, Universal Technical Institute, Phoenix campus

The noise: Whining or creaking

What it means: “If you hear this when backing up or turning, it may signify a ball joint or tie rod seizing up.” -The Car Chick™, co-host of “America’s Garage” radio show and co-owner of Women’s Automotive Solutions

The noise: Squeaking

What it means: “This is usually a high-pitched, steady sound, like an out-of-tune violin. The brakes are letting you know it’s time to change the pads.” -Blaine Decker, auto technician with more than 15 years of experience

The noise: Grinding

What it means: “If you hear metal grinding, it means two pieces of metal are touching where they shouldn’t. This could be anything from your car’s brakes, suspension, powertrain or something else. The bottom line is that all grinding noises indicate you need to get your car checked immediately.” -Ivan Drury, senior analyst and manager of pricing and industry analysis,

The noise: Hissing

What it means: “You might hear a hissing sound from under your hood after turning off your ignition, and it may be followed by smoke or mist from the same area. This is a warning signal that something’s not right in your cooling system. It could be something as simple as a bad radiator cap to a bad radiator, clutch fan, electric fan, hose or something else. -Howard J. Fleischmann, Sr., owner, Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair

Remember: Today’s annoying noise could morph into an expensive and dangerous situation tomorrow, so always schedule an appointment with a pro ASAP.

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